CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO Concerto Italiano. Violin Concerto No 2
Tully Potter’s booklet-notes accurately set the scene as far as the composition of non-operatic music in 19th-century Italy was concerned. It was with Martucci that things began to change, and 20th-century composers such as Pizzetti, Respighi, Casella and Malipiero, figures whose music has once again earned a place in public awareness thanks largely to the efforts of Chandos and Naxos, were not merely extremely accomplished but extraordinarily fine and frequently original composers.
The younger Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Ghedini have also been creeping back into the record catalogues. Castelnuovo-Tedesco has probably been held back, unjustly, by his association with the film industry. He was a prolific writer of film scores and, though his guitar music has always retained a foothold, it is only now that his orchestral and other music has once again begun to be performed and recorded. The Concerto italiano is not the breezy, pseudo-Vivaldian piece that its title might suggest; indeed, it is rather a melancholic work, even the lively finale (the best movement, I think) returning to meditative introspection before its final minute or so.
The Second Violin Concerto, I profeti, was written for Heifetz after he had performed the Concerto italiano. Its three movements are each dedicated to an Old Testament prophet; it is imbued with the composer’s awareness of his Jewish heritage and based on folk melodies. However, it is no harbinger of gloom: it is in fact a rather more lively and colourful work than the earlier concerto, especially the shining finale. Its glittering, singing lines certainly bring a resonant response both from soloist Tianwa Yang and the SWR Symphony Orchestra. A work that needs to be brought back into the repertoire.